FAR

On January 30, 2024, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (“FAR Council”) proposed a new “Pay Equity and Transparency in Federal Contracting” rule for government contractors.  The proposed rule intends to increase race and gender equity for employees of federal prime contractors and subcontractors by prohibiting them from requesting and relying on certain information about job applicants’ compensation history and requiring contractors to disclose compensation rates in job announcements for certain positions.  These requirements would apply to all prime contracts and subcontracts – including for commercial products and services – where the principal place of performance is within the United States, regardless of dollar amount or tier.  The proposed rule is the latest in a number of steps the Biden Administration has taken to address discriminatory pay practices in federal procurement and contracting since announcing an Executive Order on Advancing Economy, Efficiency, and Effectiveness in Federal Contracting by Promoting Pay Equity and Transparency in March 2022. 

The proposed rule’s potential impact and implications for contractors — as well as opportunities to submit comments on the issue — are discussed below.Continue Reading New Proposed Rule on Pay Equity and Transparency in Federal Contracting

The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals has published its annual report for FY 2023, providing data regarding the number of appeals and contractor success rates at the Board.  The data illustrated a number of noteworthy points — and a few welcome trends — for the contracting community.Continue Reading Contractors Had a Strong Success Rate Before the CBCA in FY 2023

On October 3, 2023, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council released two new proposed cybersecurity rules. The first of the two, covered in a separate blog, is titled “Cyber Threat and Incident Reporting and Information Sharing,” and adds new requirements to the cybersecurity incident reporting obligations of federal contractors. The second rule, titled “Standardizing Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems,” covers cybersecurity contractual requirements for unclassified Federal information systems.

Both rules arise from Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”). We have covered developments under this Executive Order as part of a series of monthly posts. The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and subsequent blogs described the actions taken by various government agencies to implement the Cyber EO from June 2021 through November 2023. This blog describes key requirements imposed by the proposed “Standardizing Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems” rule (the “Proposed Standardizing Rule”)

Proposed Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems

As directed by the Cyber EO, the Proposed Standardizing Rule would establish cybersecurity policies, procedures, and requirements for contractors that develop, implement, operate, or maintain Federal Information Systems (“FIS”). Under the rule, a FIS is defined as “an information system used or operated by an agency, by a contractor of an agency, or by another organization on behalf of an agency.”Continue Reading Proposed FAR Rule: “Standardizing Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems”

Echoing the Obama Administration’s Better Buying Initiative, the Biden Administration announced the Better Contracting Initiative (“BCI”), a four-pronged initiative designed to ensure the Federal Government gets better, and more consistent, terms and prices when purchasing commercial goods and services, while enhancing support for small and disadvantaged businesses.  The Initiative’s four prongs include:Continue Reading More Bang for the Government’s Buck: The Biden Administration Announces the Better Contracting Initiative

Last Friday, September 29, the FAR Council published a proposed rule that would update the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2020 changes to rules on when small businesses must recertify their status in connection with orders under multiple-award contracts.

The SBA size and socioeconomic recertification rules are convoluted — especially in situations where a small business becomes a large business by virtue of an M&A transaction and wants to continue bidding on orders under a multiple-award contract.  The proposed changes seek to provide greater clarity in the FAR on the situations in which small businesses must recertify their size status in connection with certain orders and take a much-needed step towards aligning the FAR small business requirements and clauses with SBA’s regulations.  As is true with respect to small business representations more generally, contractors should pay attention to the situation-specific recertification requirements to avoid being inadvertently tripped up.Continue Reading Updates to FAR Small Business Recertification Requirements:  More Clarity, More Complexity

Summary

The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have issued a proposed rule that would revise the Federal Acquisition Regulations (“FAR”) to implement section 5(b)(i) of Executive Order (“E.O.”) 14030, Climate-Related Financial Risk, requiring government contractors to publicly disclose greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and climate-related financial risk and

Contractors often assume that government auditors have special authority to interpret the Cost Accounting Standards.  That assumption is easy to understand — auditors frequently take the position that there is just one “right” way for a company to do its contract cost accounting, based on how other companies do things.  But contractors should know that CAS is flexible and generally gives them options about how to comply, based on the circumstances of their business.  In short, a contractor’s business judgment matters, and contractors can use it to push back on auditors who take an overly rigid view of CAS.Continue Reading So the Auditor Says You Violated CAS?  Remember, Your Business Judgment Matters When Determining Compliance

The Department of Defense is seeking early input on implementation of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (the “FY2023 NDAA”) in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation.  Although this early engagement process will not replace the formal rulemaking process, it presents a significant opportunity for government contractors, technology providers, industry associations, and other interested parties to provide their perspectives on acquisition-related provisions of this year’s NDAA.  Providing early input can ensure that industry’s perspective is heard.  Indeed, providing input at this stage may impact the future rulemaking process by guiding areas of focus and influencing ways the rule makers ask for input during the rulemaking process.
Continue Reading DoD Seeks Early Input Regarding FY2023 NDAA Implementation in Acquisition Regulations

On December 1, 2022, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and NASA published a final rule addressing “Effective Communication Between Government and Industry,” which is aimed at “encourag[ing] communication between Government acquisition personnel and industry.”

The rule adds a paragraph to FAR 1.102-2 that reads as follows:

The Government must not hesitate to communicate